Organic Fish Farming
People’s search for healthier food alternatives has created a demand even for organically grown fish. What makes a fish a certified ‘organic’ produce? What is the status of the country’s search for standards to govern organic fish farming? Learn the answers to these questions from our basic guide to organic aquaculture.
Organically grown foods are in demand as people are becoming increasingly aware of the ill effects that consumption of synthetic foods bring.
This demand for organic food extends to aquatic food. As such, there has been much attention given to organic fish farming in the last several years.
Aquaculture and Organic Labelling
In countries that have gone far in welcoming organic fish farming as a category in their aquaculture, there are established standards to adhere to and products that meet the set criteria gets the ‘organic’ mark certifying their authenticity. This mark is the ultimate identifier of the quality of an organic fish farmer’s produce.
Organically grown fish are understood to be those that matured without the use of pesticides, dyes and antibiotics usually employed in conventional aquaculture. But for a fish to be certified organic, it takes more than meeting this definition. Organic fish farming in its complete essence requires adherence to specific standards in terms of location of production, health of the fish, breeds and breeding, nutrition and harvesting.
Organic Fish Standards in US
In the U.S., it was only in November when the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved the first rules regarding what the label ‘organic’ in aquaculture means. The standard came after much discussion about what constitutes organic farming. Topics under discussion as consumers, concerned agencies and environmentalist clamour for definite organic farming standards, also touched on whether fish caught in the wild can be labelled organic as well. Those opposed to the inclusion of wild fish in the organic category argues that one can never know the source of a wild fish’s feed, and thus, it is not possible to declare that one fish caught in the wild meets organic fish farming nutrition standard.
Theoretically, organic farming means letting the animal being raised grow according to its nature and at stocking densities that closely mimics its natural habitat. At farming conditions, however, fish are kept in cages in inland water or seacoasts, which for economic reasons require that they be stocked at the highest density that can be allowed. In this high density condition, feeding the farmed fish prepared food in bulk (fishmeal) becomes a necessity.
Under the rules approved by the USDA, organic fish farmers may use wild fish as part of their feed formulation up to 25% as long as it is not a forage species that has been overfished.
For advice about matters concerning fish farming, visit The Fisheries Technology Associates.
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